Last Looks by Howard Michael Gould

Last Looks

Howard Michael Gould

Charlie Waldo, a onetime LAPD superstar, now lives in solitude deep in the woods. When Waldo’s old flame draws him toward a case, Waldo must navigate complicated webs of ego and deceit as he reenters civilization again.

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A razor-sharp, exquisitely paced, madly fun debut thriller that gleefully lampoons Hollywood culture and introduces the highly eccentric yet brilliant ex-detective gone rogue: Charlie Waldo.

There are run-of-the-mill eccentric Californians, and then there's former detective Charlie Waldo.

Waldo, a onetime LAPD superstar, now lives in solitude deep in the woods, pathologically committed to owning no more than one hundred possessions. He has left behind his career and his girlfriend, Lorena, to pay self-imposed penance for an awful misstep on an old murder case. But the old ghosts are about to come roaring back.

There are plenty of difficult actors in Hollywood, and then there's Alastair Pinch.

Alastair is a onetime Royal Shakespeare Company thespian who now slums it as the "wise" Southern judge on a tacky network show. He's absurdly rich, often belligerent, and typically drunk--a damning combination when Alastair's wife is found dead on their living room floor and he can't remember what happened.

Waldo's old flame Lorena, hiding peril of her own, draws him toward the case, and Alastair's greedy network convinces Waldo to take it on. But after such a long time away from both civilization and sleuthing--and plagued by a confounding array of assailants who want him gone--Waldo must navigate complicated webs of ego and deceit to clear Alastair's name . . . or confirm his guilt.

Advance Galley Reviews

Waldo's wan sense of humor is fantastic, and I loved how he was able to come to a successful closed case even though everything was working against him. Definitely a series I will follow.

Charlie Waldo retired from the LAPD three years ago after learning he screwed up a case royally. To make amends in his own mind, he lives in Idyllwild leading a minimalistic lifestyle. He hasn’t even spoken to another person in that three years time until his ex shows up asking for help. A big star has been accused of murdering his wife and needs help finding the truth. Will Waldo be drug into this case or even make it out alive? I love Waldo. He’s so endearing. I really enjoyed the book and although a thing or two did not make a lot of sense to me, the book as a whole was awesome. I truly hope there is more Waldo planned as I really liked the character. I received a copy through the Penguin First to Read program. I gave this book 5 stars!!!

I had high hopes for this book, but just couldn't get into it.

Sometimes I come across a book that in a quiet and understated way knocks me off my feet. I doesn't happen every year, but it happened to me with this book. The main character, former LAPD Detective Charlie Waldo, is a fantastic protagonist who gets beat up badly along the way and gets back up in a wonderfully charming and disarming way. Howard Michael Gould adds several credible twists and turns to the story along the way that keeps the pace of the book at a perfect speed, leaving the reader with no choice but to keep turning the pages. In other words, this is my favorite book of 2018 so far, and it will be pretty darn difficult to beat. If you like mysteries/whodunnits with a good portion of humor and a great cast of characters added to the list of ingredients, I will strongly recommend diving into Gould's the world of Charlie Waldo.

A solid read. While this book wasn't Earth shattering, it is a good read for a rainy day and wanting a little bit of crazy in your life without turning on the tv. I did have a slight problem with Waldo, just kept thinking where is he and his candy cane stripped sweater.

A good beach read, easy to read. Story was enjoyable enough, but a little too unrealistic. There's too many threads in the beginning that come together too well in the end. Also didn't really like any of the characters, but enjoyed the details about them.

I would consider this a great vacation read. The story was interesting and enjoyable but not scary enough to make you stay up at night. It was fun in the characters, the character development, and story. It was gripping enough to keep me interested, and it might have been the weather I read it in, but it seemed like a great summer book. It was interesting but not a book that makes your brain hurt. All in all, a fun, enjoyable read!

Unfortunately, I ran out of time on this one and it expired, but from the first 1/3 or so, I liked the setup for the contrasts of Waldo and his 100 thing limit and the excesses of Pinch's Hollywood star diva lifestyle. I did find it hard to believe that an ex-cop would not find having a driver's license (or at least state ID) as one of his 100 most important possessions, but Pinch's on-set introduction and the fight with the Palisades Punks were very entertaining, as well as the visit to Gaby's preschool and the inevitability that pulled Waldo through getting the job without ever saying yes. On the other hand, although I can see where his false confession downfall would lead to him wanting to be a hermit, I didn't see how that connected to the low carbon footprint/minimalism; especially for someone with resources to create whatever paradise his guilt would allow him. I will look for this one when it comes out to finish it!

Last Looks introduces the reader to ex-LAPD cop and minimalist Charlie Waldo. When I started this book I thought I was going to hate it. When I got about a third of the way through the book I was hooked. Waldo started out seeming like a weird 1970's commune living, tree hugging hippie with OCD tendencies. Actually he kind of is a replica of a 1970's commune living, tree hugging hippie with OCD tendencies. What started out annoying became hysterically funny, endearing and addicting. I absolutely love this character. If you combine Adrian Monk with John Sanford's Virgil Flowers you come pretty close to Charlie Waldo. I can't think of a better combination of characteristics. The reader is inside his head the entire book and what an interesting, enjoyable and amusing place to be. The character development was so well done I feel like I would know Waldo if I met him on the street. Oh how I wish that were possible. Waldo is a damaged man who has gone to extremes to self flagilate himself for wrongs he believes he is responsible for. Maintaining the standards he's set for himself is beyond difficult and when he has to make decisions that could mean life or death his thought process is laugh out loud funny. The storyline in this book is complex but easy to follow. There are a lot of characters involved in this murder investigation and all are well fleshed out and the reader isn't confused for a second. I can't recommend this book highly enough. Charlie Waldo is the best character I've met in a book since Harry Bosch. I can't believe I'm saying this but I like him better than Harry Bosch. The storyline is solid and keeps you guessing right up to the end. THIS is a series and Charlie Waldo is a character I will follow. I can't wait for the next in the series.

I enjoyed this debut novel, a mystery that centers on an interesting hero in a crazy Hollywood setting. Waldo, an LAPD cop turned hermit, makes the story. He left the force, violently burning his bridges. He'd believed a lying witness and the wrong guy paid a deadly price. He attacked the police force and made way too many enemies. An old girlfriend, a PI, invades his reclusive get away and asks for his help in finding a murderer. I think Waldo makes this novel work. He has become a minimalist and allows himself only one hundred Things. His ruminations about why people have “stuff” really made me think. So did his coming down from his recluse mountain cabin to work the case. What a contrast, three years of silence and self sustenance to the glittery world of Hollywood. I recommend this mystery to readers who enjoy a character driven mystery. I think you'll like Waldo's tenacious spirit. You'll also get a glimpse into the strange culture of Hollywood and some of the odd people involved in the movie business. I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

Take one former detective, hiding far from Los Angeles, mired in a life devoted to detachment from people and things and coax him back to everything he has rejected. He re-enters civilization long enough to decline employment. Then he decides to stick around just long enough to make sure folks really understand he’s not taking any quick jobs. By the time he’s finally given up explaining his lifestyle to everyone, he realizes he’s in too deep; he has to solve this little misunderstanding. You’ll wonder if he can solve anything, the author has hooked you as well.

I truly enjoyed this ARC. I found Charlie Waldo entertaining if odd. Waldo's minimalist lifestyle is as perplexing to others as their consumerism is perplexing to him. He is forced out of retirement to determine whether a famous actor killed his wife during a drunken stupor. Waldo must overcome opposition from gangsters, shady business people, and pissed off cops. Waldo gets beat up a lot and he's never sure who is being truthful and who is acting. He also has to wrestle with demons from his past and minimizing his carbon footprint. Some of the action in this book is more fanciful than realistic, but the lighthearted approach makes the book more enjoyable.

Very interesting story. Charlie Waldo was a strange character with his limiting himself to 100 things, not eating anything that had been in a package and living so isolated in the mountains. As an ex-police officer that had a bad case which led him to his withdrawing from society, an old girlfriend talks him into coming off his mountain and taking a new case. Working now as a PI and trying to solve this new case now has him getting back using his detective skills. Can he prove the movie star didn't commit the murder of his wife? Lots of stuff going on in the book which really keeps your attention. I enjoyed reading this story and trying to figure out who did do the killing.

This book was a fun read although there were some things that annoyed me. Charlie was a very annoying character. I enjoyed his whit but he was very forceful when it came to his 100 things way of life and going off on others about it. I'm not completely sold on the ending or resolution but I guess it's character growth. All that said I'd probably read a sequel

I think Charlie Waldo will come down off his mountain for another case. He certainly is an odd fellow with only allowing himself to own 100 things. He has an irrational way of deciding what accounts as two or one thing, like a pair of socks. My only concern is with all the beatings Waldo received from bad guys, he shouldn't have have been so with it at times. He certainly must've had some cracked ribs. Thanks to first to read for the free ebook.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Penguin First to Read in exchange for a fair and honest review. Charlie Waldo has as many layers as an onion. Most of those layers put people off, but he really doesn’t seem to mind. He lives as a minimalist in the woods away from society. But when the outside world comes crashing into his peace and serenity, he grudgingly decides he has to rejoin the human race (which he mostly despises) for a few days. Waldo is asked to help clear an obnoxious, overinflated actor of murdering his wife. He really isn’t a PI, but somehow the lawyer for the actor thought Waldo could and would take the case. When Waldo left the LAPD he was on the top of his game, but that game included a scandal within the ranks that Waldo could not live with, so he took them down just like any other criminal. To say he burned his bridges would be an understatement. Finding himself back in LA on the set of a movie was not how he envisioned his life. But here he was, somehow too intrigued to go back to the life he chose until he finds the person who he thinks really killed the victim. This choice does not come easily. He is mentally and physically challenged by the reception he more or less expected from his former brothers in blue. As a matter of fact, they hate him, refuse to cooperate when he asks for information and harass him at every encounter. Stoically, he just can’t shake the feeling that there is a bigger picture than the police and prosecutor are painting, and like a dog with a bone, he just can’t let go until he uncovers the truth – if he lives that long. Waldo’s world is intriguing. As a minimalist, he only allows himself 100 Things. If he adds a Thing, such as a comb, a pair of socks or a gun, he has to give away one Thing to never have more than 100. This in and of itself makes him interesting, but he is so much more. One of his Things is a MacBook. He is not out of touch with the world or technology. He is quite current on events in the world and is very well read. He has acquaintances, but not really friends anymore. Donations to charity are part of his monthly routine and he plays chess online daily. The only two people that don’t hate him are the sharp-witted six-year-old daughter of the accused murderer and her kindergarten teacher. Last Looks is an interestingly multi-layered novel of murder and mystery wrapped in the Waldo’s cloak of minimalism and self-imposed exile from society. Love, lust and revenge are woven into the plot. There is a love scene that is quite possibly the best one I have ever read. It is sensual without being graphic, but not Victorian by any stretch of the imagination. I loved this book. It has every element to keep a reader grabbing it to read a few pages, then chapters. Soon you realize you have spent hours with the characters and story that it is still impossible to put down. This stunningly clever, often funny book is the first novel published by Gould. It is an interesting, amazing read – run, don’t walk to your computer to order it today! Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

Thank you to and Penguin Books for the opportunity to read Last Looks. It was a fun who done it. It’s definitely a light read, but I don’t need Tolstoy every time I read. I look forward to reading more Waldo adventures. This needs to be a series.

Overall I thought this was a well written book. I enjoyed it and there were enough twists to keep it interesting. Waldo's character was well written and the pace of the book was good. Thanks First to Read for my advance copy.

It was an okay book for me. I sort of liked Charlie Waldo thru the whole book but the 100 Things were starting to get a little out of hand. I didn't like how he gave up his bike and hopped in the car after hearing about all he was trying to do to save the planet. I received a free pre-publication copy of this book in return for an honest review.

At first I completely hated the main character, making it difficult to continue reading. However by about half way through I really needed to know what happened. A quick, easy, witty read with a satisfying though somewhat cheesy ending.

I enjoyed this book. I watch crime dramas on TV all the time so this is right up my alley. Ex cop, Charlie Waldo, has voluntarily secluded himself in the mountains with only 100 possessions. Can he get pulled out of his minimalist lifestyle to help out an old friend/lover? The book kept my attention, and made me want to finish to find out who the killer really was! Good read!

Still halfway through the book, but I'm really enjoying it so far. Liking the pace of it a lot.

Last Looks is a fun and enjoyable read. Charlie Waldo had been a successful detective, rising quickly in the police department until he, as the book put it, not only burned bridges, but the entire river. He now lives in seclusion on a mountain with just 100 things – he has become a true minimalist. He is reluctantly pulled off of his mountain retreat due to his reported involvement in the investigation of an actor who has murdered his wife. There is a secondary storyline when his former girlfriend, who is a private investigator, disappears. Waldo works on the murder investigation, the disappearance of his former flame, and trying to maintain his ownership of only 100 items while dealing with the resentment and anger backlash that is directed at him by his former colleagues in the police department. The book has a great sense of humor and a really good pace. It is set in the current day but sort of has the feel of the old noir novel with the down and out on his luck, cynical detective, trying to prove himself or make up for something he couldn’t set right in the past. I very much enjoyed it and really hope that this will be the first in a series as Charlie Waldo is a character I would like to spend time with again. Thank you to First to Read for my ARC of this book.

From the first chapter introducing Charlie Waldo in his minimalist environs I was drawn to Howard Michael Gould's fascinating main character. His back story evolves as he is enticed from his mountain retreat back to Los Angeles where he was once a well respected LAPD detective. Waldo burned all his bridges when he left the force so his resources are limited as he tries to determine if a bright network star killed his wife in an alcoholic blackout. The disappearance of the colleague who lured him from his mountain as well as attacks from several parties "urging" him to stop his inquiries further his curiosity. The characters are well developed and the plot moves along at a fast clip keeping the pages turning. I look forward to more from this author. I received a free pre-publication copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I enjoyed this book. Waldo, the main character, is living pretty much off the grid after he blew up his career as a detective. Living in seclusion, he only allows himself to possess 100 things, which is repeatedly mentioned throughout the book. An old flame comes to visit and pulls him back to Hollywood, where he never wanted to go again. He is trying to figure out who murdered an actor's wife while trying to stay alive himself. Good first book by Gould and I would probably read more from him.

Last Looks is set in modern day Hollywood, but it's really Gould's homage to novels about down on their luck detectives who are somehow swept up in a maelstrom of hoods and movie stars. Waldo, who is kind of like Thoreau camping out on Walden Pond - (note the name similarity) lives on a retreat in the San Jacinto Mountains near Idylwild. His days as a fast-rising LAPD star are behind him. His career in tatters. These days, he's a hermit and a minimalist who has decided to limit his possessions to 100 things, although a pair of socks counts as one thing -a pair- not two- like a pair of pants, you see. Cut off from his past, on his own, Waldo is suddenly - and very much against his will - brought back into civilization as a private eye to save the studio's number one asset from a murder rap. But, being the minimalist he is, Waldo sets off on bicycle with three years beard growth and a change of clothes to make sense of what happened before a set of goons right out of central casting permanently put his lights out. Waldo is the classic down-on-his-luck detective taken to the extreme. It's madly irreverent, and somehow some way Gould has made this crazy novel hard to put down. Many thanks to Penguin Publishing for providing a copy for review.


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